Last update : 03/09/2023
Are you planning your next trip to the Greek Islands and need help choosing which islands to see first? In this article, we bring you our selection of the most beautiful Greek islands, from the best-known to the most confidential. Head for the Cyclades, the Ionian Islands or Crete for an unforgettable vacation. One thing’s for sure: whatever you choose, you’re sure to come back to the Greek islands. There’s so much to discover! For our first trip, we chose to go to the Cyclades out of season to discover the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. We loved this trip so much, we soon decided to visit more little-known islands like Zakynthos and Kefalonia.
So, where to go in Greece and more specifically in the Greek islands? The hardest part will be choosing! Here’s to adventure. 🥳
The Greek islands of the Ionian Sea
Zante or Zakynthos
We begin this selection of the most beautiful Greek islands with one of our favorites and still rather unknown, the island of Zakynthos or Zante. This island is part of the Ionian Islands and you’ve probably already seen it in photos without even realizing it! The famous Navagio beach and its beached boat is one of the Greek spots most shared on social networks. This island, still untouched by mass tourism, is for us one of the most beautiful. The color of the water is just incredible and you’ll love swimming with the turtles in the intense blue lagoons.
The best time to go to Zante is from May to October, with temperatures averaging 30 degrees. If you have a choice, we would definitely recommend June.
Cephalonia or Kefalonia
We continue our passage through the Ionian Islands with the discovery of this little gem located just off Zakynthos. It’s a top island if you want to take a vacation in Greece, away from mass tourism and without blowing your budget. Kefalonia’s beaches are truly postcard-perfect. If you had to do just one, we highly recommend Myrtos beach. And don’t forget to visit Assos, one of Kefalonia’s most beautiful villages. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, head for Mount Ainos.
The best time to visit Kefalonia is from April to October. The rainy season is between November and March, a period we recommend you avoid. Allow at least 4 days to enjoy the island, and you can even combine this trip with a visit to Zakynthos. The two islands are linked by ferry on a daily basis.
Corfou or Kerkyra
It’s impossible to talk about the Ionian islands without mentioning the biggest of them all, Corfu! The island is world-famous for the beauty of its beaches and landscapes. It’s an island bathed in sunshine all year round, so we advise you to make the most of it, while trying to avoid the summer crowds as much as possible. While you’re on this beautiful Greek island, you won’t want to miss the town of Corfu, one of the few fortified towns to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lefkada, located in the Ionian Islands of Greece, is an ideal destination for lovers of beautiful beaches, picturesque villages and verdant mountains. Lefkada’s west coast boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The turquoise waters and shades of blue of the sea are breathtaking, and if it’s your first time in the Greek islands, you won’t be disappointed! As you can see, Lefkada is an island of lush natural beauty, brimming with hidden treasures and assets.
Leucade, which means “white”, is a name given to the island to refer to the chalk cliffs you’ll find in the south of the island. The island is easily accessible by car from the Greek mainland, thanks to a bridge that links the two. It’s a 5-hour drive from Athens. You can also take a ferry to get to the island more quickly.
Paxos or Paxi
Paxos is a small Greek island in the Ionian Sea, known for its beautiful white pebble beaches and crystal-clear waters. Hiking enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the island’s many trails, which offer breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding Greek islands. Swimmers can relax on the beaches of Gaios, one of the island’s main towns. If, like us, you’re a sunset enthusiast, head for Erimitis beach. You’ll have a breathtaking view of the sunset! As you can see, there’s something for everyone on Paxos. With its breathtaking scenery and rich culture, Paxos is the ideal place for a relaxing and discovering holiday in Greece.
The Greek islands in the Aegean
Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and undoubtedly one of the best known. It is even the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus and Corsica. Crete is nicknamed the Island of the Gods because, according to mythology, it was here that Zeus was born! You’ve probably already heard someone you know extolling the virtues of Crete, because the island has so much to offer. From heavenly beaches and lagoons to fishing villages, gorges and hiking trails, you’re bound to find something to suit you.
Don’t miss: the Samaria Gorge, an incredible site classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. In short, going to Crete is the assurance of leaving with your eyes full of memories! The best time to visit Crete is from April to September/October.
Often mistakenly summed up as a festive, touristy island, we found the island of Mykonos extremely charming. To tell you the truth, we really fell in love with this Greek island. Discovering it out of season undoubtedly allowed us to discover a Mykonos that was more authentic than its image as a party destination. On our Cyclades road trip, we decided to discover Mykonos and Santorini on the same trip. Allow two hours to cross between these two Greek islands by ferry.
In our opinion, the best time to go to Mykonos is off-season from May to June or September to mid-October. After this date, many restaurants and shops will be closed, which can be a shame.
It’s hard to talk about the Cyclades without mentioning Santorini, one of Greece’s most famous islands! This is where we enjoyed the most beautiful sunsets of our lives, every evening. We loved discovering authentic villages like Oia and Fira on the edge of the Caldera. Our only recommendation for discovering this island without suffering too much from mass tourism: travel out of season and get up early! Indeed, tourists from all over the world crowd into the narrow streets of Santorini’s villages.
Personally, we decided to get up every day at 7am so we could enjoy the villages before the cruisers arrived at 10am. If you want to get the most out of Santorini and its famous blue domes, we recommend you browse our full guide.
Euboea is Greece’s second largest island. It’s a lesser-known destination, but just as charming as its famous neighbor, Crete. Located to the north-east of Athens, this green, mountainous island is ideal for nature lovers who want to get away from the busiest tourist areas. Unlike the Cyclades islands, Evia has no picturesque villages, but offers an authentic atmosphere and typical places.
The lush vegetation, particularly in the north of the island, contrasts with the more arid landscapes of other parts of Greece. In the south, the region is more mountainous and offers spectacular hiking, particularly from the villages of Mount Ochi. Karystos, a peaceful seaside resort, is renowned for its unspoilt beaches. The island is easily accessible from the mainland via the Halkida bridge. Or by ferry from the port of Rafina in Athens or Agia Marina in Crete.
Milos isn’t the best-known island in the Cyclades, but you’ve probably heard of it! This island is known for its crystal-clear waters, magnificent sunsets and its calm compared to the other Cycladic islands. Milos is still wild in places. It’s a pleasure to wander around its small fishing ports. The island is less crowded, which has the advantage of costing much less than the other Cycladic islands! A good choice if you’re on a budget and want to spend a quiet vacation. A must: the little village of Mandrakia!
We recommend you take the ferry to Milos, allow 2h30 from Santorini for example to make the crossing. When to go to Milos? The weather is ideal from May to October.
Rhodes, is the largest island in the Dodecanese, an archipelago of Greek islands located in the Aegean Sea to the east of the Cyclades. It is therefore the most touristic island of this archipelago, so we recommend you avoid visiting it in the middle of summer as much as possible. The island is world-famous for its Colossus, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, and for its crystal-clear beaches. For lovers of history and archaeology, don’t miss the old town of Rhodes either. Indeed, Rhodes is the oldest medieval city in Europe to have been inhabited since its creation.
Naxos is a Greek island in the Cyclades, brimming with natural and cultural wonders. It’s the largest and highest island in the Cyclades! Imagine strolling along the palm-fringed white-sand beaches, swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea… The definition of happiness! You can also explore the incredible archaeological sites. Like the ancient temple of Apollo, or visit traditional villages admiring the charming whitewashed houses.
Hiking enthusiasts will also be delighted! Mountain trails offering breathtaking views of the island and the sea. All in all, Naxos is an ideal destination for those looking to combine relaxation, cultural discovery and outdoor activities. There’s no doubt that you’ll fall in love with this magnificent island. You’re sure to fall in love with Chora Naxos, the island’s main town.
Skiathos and the Sporades archipelago
The Sporades archipelago is made up of hundreds of small islands, four of which are inhabited. If you’re looking for a heavenly destination for your vacation in Greece, the Sporades are a great option. Between charming villages and enchanting natural sites, these islands have something to seduce you.
Skiathos, the largest island in the Sporades, is popular with hikers and lovers of idleness and water activities. Alonissos, on the other hand, is an unspoilt island with a strong emphasis on green tourism. Skopelos is where the film Mamma Mia was shot. The island boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Last but not least, Skyros is a less touristy island with many surprises in store. Although more difficult to reach than other Greek islands, the Sporades are well worth the effort.
Greek islands, our tips for making your choice
We know how complicated it can be to choose which Greek island to visit on a trip to Greece! So we hope this selection will help you! To sum up, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, we recommend heading for the Ionian islands such as Zakynthos or Kefalonia. If you want to visit the more famous islands like Santorini or Mykonos, don’t hesitate to travel out of season. This will allow you to enjoy them to the full. You can also discover a quieter island if you want to do a road trip in the Cyclades like Milos for example.
Visiting the Greek islands, how to organize your trip well?
How to get to the Greek islands
To find the best mode of transport to your destination, we recommend you always look on the OMIO comparator. This will give you an overview of all available modes of transport. You’ll be able to compare prices very easily.Learn more
How to rent a rental car at the best price in the Greek islands
If you’re looking to rent a car during your trip, we recommend taking a look at the RentalCars website. This will enable you to find the best prices and conditions for your rental.Learn more
How to find the best hotels to visit the Greek islands
In order to find the best hotels and benefit from the best conditions (security, cancellation…) we go almost exclusively through Booking.com for our trips. We recommend that you take a look at the available hotels before you leave. You can filter them according to their ratings. The customer reviews are very numerous and recent, which means you can avoid unpleasant surprises when traveling!Learn more
How to find ideas for vacation activities
If you want to get ideas for activities to do on your vacation and want to book in advance, we also recommend taking a look at the GetYourGuide site. This will give you an overview of the activities on offer in your destination, so you don’t have to wait until you get there to book your places.Learn more
Thank you for reading
We hope this article helps you plan your next trip to the Greek islands!
You can also follow our daily adventures on Instagram 🙂
Clem & Alex